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Change is good

Heather Hicks
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” Monday was Presidents Day, and, in light of our current state of affairs, I opted for change to my on-mountain routine. Rather than locking into my alpine skis, I wriggled my rented telemark boots into a borrowed pair of tele skis and headed to Buttermilk. A sunny, snow-peaked view from the top of Highland Bowl would have to wait; my day was green, green, green, from beginning to end.

Some friends and I ventured over to West Buttermilk, making slow and wobbly figure eights, one after another, down Westward Ho, Larkspur and Homestead Road trails. Our fearless and patient friend-turned-instructor, Patrick, displayed his preternatural talent as a first-season telemarker, and we hung on his every turn and word of encouragement.

Skiing reverted back to the basics, and I had to relearn to trust myself on the hill.

I soon discovered my right leg is my dominant leg by how ridiculously awkward it felt to bend and hold steady on my left leg across the slope. Alas, by midday, a few turns really clicked, and I got a taste of the grace and rhythm of tele-style skiing.

Our little gang of three solicited many stares and curious looks from alpine skiers. We even got hollered at by a chair of teenage girls on the West Buttermilk Express Lift: “We love telemarkers. Woo-hoo!”

As our day came to an end, we decided on one last challenge and headed for the bumps. They were all so hardened and hollowed out that it was nearly impossible to float straight across them with a bent leg. I laughed to myself at the sheer athleticism of the sport and felt a deep sense of wonder toward all the telemarkers I’ve seen thundering down Deep Temerity over the years.

Change is good. Change is natural. Change is evident. It’s time to go out and buy some knee pads.

Snowmass picked up 5 inches of new snow in the past 24 hours, according to the Aspen Skiing Co.’s Friday morning report. Aspen Highlands got 4 inches, Aspen Mountain picked up 3 inches and Buttermilk is sporting 2 inches of fresh stuff.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center report for Friday, Feb. 22:

Avalanche danger for the Aspen zone today is moderate on all aspects near and above treeline. Danger below treeline is low. Human-triggered avalanches remain possible.

Go to http://avalanche.state.co.us/ for the full report and information on avalanche conditions statewide.


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